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EVIL AND UGLY (YA Fantasy)


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#1 VMacGregor

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 05:04 PM

Dear [Agent],

 

Gertie is an 1011-year-old witch who has had about enough of this whole 'living' business. Unfortunately, due to her bond with the forces of magic, she just can't seem to die. Nowadays, the rest of the kingdom assumes that since she is old, ugly, and has a knack for casting creepy spells, she must be evil. So Gertie figures, “to hell with it all,” and secludes herself in a hovel in the woods.

 

Freya is a seventeen-year-old girl born into a race of half-dog, half-human people who are considered lower-class in her world. Growing up, her parents taught her to keep her head down and not to mingle with humans or elves- the 'beautiful' races. Sick of feeling lower than dirt, Freya runs into the woods in search of a spell that will rid her of her fur and paws. Though Gertie cannot grant the spell, she helps Freya start a new life in a nearby metropolitan village.

 

Then, Gertie's seemingly beautiful, and beloved-by-all, sister kidnaps a boy from the village. She intends to use him in a sacrifice for a spell that will keep her young and beautiful. Freya ventures out to save him and convinces Gertie to leave the safety of her hovel and face her sister. In the end, Gertie proves she isn't so evil and Freya realizes she isn't so ugly.

 

My 81,000 word young adult fantasy novel, EVIL AND UGLY, is Patricia C. Wrede’s Calling on Dragons meets Marilyn Kaye’s Penelope. It will appeal to the readers of the more recently published novel, Uprooted, by Naomi Novak.

 

I have a degree in English and creative writing from Flagler College and just wrapped up the school year as a high school special education assistant. Per your submission guidelines, I have included [the submission requirements] the bottom of this email. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 


#2 Niambi

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 10:47 PM

You have the word count down, and once you handle some of the issues this will be excellent.

First, I'd start with what the story is actually about. You mention things that happen, but not what Gertie or Freya actually want. It's mentioned that Gertie wants to die, but then she doesn't and goes into hiding.

Then comes Freya who wants to not be a dog/human. She goes into the woods (I assume because she knows about Gertie but it's not clear) attempting to find a spell, and that is the beginning of a potential story, then we're told the spell doesn't exist. Gertie tells her to live in another town.

Next, and seemingly from left field, we're told one of Gertie's sisters kidnaps a boy from a village and Freya wants to help but we're never told why or if it's someone Freya knows about.

This isn't a critique on your story, just the way it's presented here. And believe me when I started my first query was and still is terrible.

What's helped me with my queries and loglines is answering these questions:
1) who is the MC and what does he/she want or need?
2) what is the MC going to do to get it?
3) who or what is in the MC's way?
4) how will the MC overcome?
5) what happens if the MC doesn't succeed?

Starting with the hook then moving to answer these questions will make for a great foundation.

#3 jaustail

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 11:03 PM

JMO:

 

Gertie is an('a') 1011-year-old witch who has had about enough of this whole 'living' business. Unfortunately, due to her bond with the forces of magic, she just can't seem to die(maybe: she can't just commit suicide). Nowadays, the rest of the kingdom assumes that since she is old, ugly, and has a knack for casting creepy spells, she must be evil. So Gertie figures, “to hell with it all,” and secludes herself in a hovel in the woods.(good voice)

 

Freya is a seventeen-year-old girl born into a race of half-dog, half-human people who are considered lower-class in her world. Growing up, her parents taught her to keep her head down and not to mingle with humans or elves- the 'beautiful' races. Sick of feeling lower than dirt, Freya runs into the woods in search of a spell that will rid her of her fur and paws. Though Gertie cannot grant the spell, she helps Freya start a new life in a nearby metropolitan village.

 

Then, Gertie's seemingly beautiful, and beloved-by-all, sister kidnaps a boy from the village. She intends to use him in a sacrifice for a spell that will keep her young and beautiful. Freya ventures out to save him and convinces Gertie to leave the safety of her hovel and face her sister. In the end, Gertie proves she isn't so evil and Freya realizes she isn't so ugly.

 

 

I suggest restrict the query to one character's pov. Write paragraph 2 and 3 from Gertie's pov. It becomes easier to read. But I just read a query with two characters and that was well written.


Query: WALL OF ICE

(Space Opera)

Revised version: Link


#4 Iconian

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 08:07 PM

I think I like your query a lot.  I only have a few suggestions.

 

 

 

 

Dear [Agent],

 

Gertie is a 1,011 year-old witch who has had about enough of this whole 'living' business. Unfortunately, due to her bond with the forces of magic, she just can't seem to die. Nowadays, the rest of the kingdom [I would give the actual name of the kingdom--"Nowadays, the rest of the Kingdom of Zeal, the Kingdom of Guardia"] assumes that since she is old, ugly, and has a knack for casting creepy spells, she must be evil. So Gertie figures, “to hell with it all,” ["To hell with it all,"] and secludes herself in a hovel in the woods.

 

Freya is a seventeen-year-old girl born into a race of half-dog, half-human people who are considered lower-class in her world.  [I might rewrite this sentence, "Freya is a seventeen-year-old girl, living just a short ways from where Gertie now resides, and born into a race of half-dog, half-human people who are considered lower-class in her world."]  Growing up, her parents taught her to keep her head down and not to mingle with humans or elves- the 'beautiful' races. Sick of feeling lower than dirt, Freya runs into the woods in search of a spell that will rid her of her fur and paws. Gertie cannot grant the spell, but she does help Freya start a new life in a nearby metropolitan village.

 

But then, Gertie's seemingly beautiful sister, [I'd give the sister's name here] beloved-by-all, kidnaps a boy from that village. She intends to use him in a sacrifice for a spell that will keep her young and beautiful, but Freya ventures out to save him and convinces Gertie to leave the safety of her hovel and face her sister. In the end, Gertie proves she isn't so evil and Freya realizes she isn't so ugly.

 

My 81,000 word young adult fantasy novel, EVIL AND UGLY, [I'd see if you can come up with a new name.  Maybe find a theme in your story, something beyond "evil and ugly," and add it to the name.  Like, "Misfits: Evil and Ugly."  Or, "Supernatural Rejects: Evil and Ugly."  Though I don't think either of those is very good.] is Patricia C. Wrede’s Calling on Dragons meets Marilyn Kaye’s Penelope. It will appeal to the readers of the more recently published novel, Uprooted, by Naomi Novak.

 

I have a degree in English and creative writing from Flagler College and just wrapped up the school year as a high school special education assistant. Per your submission guidelines, I have included [the submission requirements] the bottom of this email. Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

 

 

I personally like your query, with the few changes I suggested.  You have three distinct individuals (Gertie, Freya, Gertie's sister) with three distinct paragraphs and I don't think it's written anywhere that you can't have multiple viewpoints in a story.  Maybe some agents will disagree, but I'll bet you can find one that likes it.  I'd just take care, within the book, not to move around the viewpoints too much.  Five or ten chapters from one character's point of view, then a few more from someone else's point of view, and then back to the first character's, would be to my liking.  On the other hand, if you alternated every other chapter from one character to the other . . . that's a book I'd probably stop reading after about chapter five.


My query, open to critiques:   http://agentquerycon...mantic-dramedy/


#5 Rbevin17

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 09:11 PM

I really liked your query too!  These are my minor suggestions:

 

Dear [Agent],

 

Gertie is a 1,011 year-old witch who has had about enough of this whole 'living' business. Unfortunately, due to her bond with the forces of magic, she just can't seem to die. Nowadays, the rest of the kingdom [I would give the actual name of the kingdom--"Nowadays, the rest of the Kingdom of Zeal, the Kingdom of Guardia"] assumes that since she is old, ugly, and has a knack for casting creepy spells, (I would make this description stand out a little more.   old, ugly and casting creepy spells sounds a bit too generic.  What makes your character different?) she must be evil. So Gertie figures, “to hell with it all,” ["To hell with it all,"] and secludes herself in a hovel in the woods.

 

Freya is a seventeen-year-old girl born into a race of half-dog, half-human people (does this race have a name?) who are considered lower-class in her world (maybe a stronger phrase here, considered lower class sounds benign).  [I might rewrite this sentence, "Freya is a seventeen-year-old girl, living just a short ways from where Gertie now resides, and born into a race of half-dog, half-human people who are considered lower-class in her world."]  Growing up, her parents taught her to keep her head down and not to mingle with humans or elves- the 'beautiful' races. Sick of feeling lower than dirt, Freya runs into the woods in search of a spell that will rid her of her fur and paws. Gertie cannot grant the spell, but she does help Freya start a new life in a nearby metropolitan village (I would name this village if you mention it in the next paragraph).

 

But then, Gertie's seemingly beautiful sister, [I'd give the sister's name here] beloved-by-all, kidnaps a boy from that village. She intends to use him in a sacrifice for a spell that will keep her young and beautiful, but Freya ventures out to save him and convinces Gertie to leave the safety of her hovel and face her sister (there's a lot of 'ands' in this sentence). In the end, Gertie proves she isn't so evil and Freya realizes she isn't so ugly.

 

My 81,000 word young adult fantasy novel, EVIL AND UGLY, [I'd see if you can come up with a new name.  Maybe find a theme in your story, something beyond "evil and ugly," and add it to the name.  Like, "Misfits: Evil and Ugly."  Or, "Supernatural Rejects: Evil and Ugly."  Though I don't think either of those is very good.] is Patricia C. Wrede’s Calling on Dragons meets Marilyn Kaye’s Penelope. It will appeal to the readers of the more recently published novel, Uprooted, by Naomi Novak.

 

I have a degree in English and creative writing from Flagler College and just wrapped up the school year as a high school special education assistant. Per your submission guidelines, I have included [the submission requirements] the bottom of this email. Thank you for your time and consideration.



#6 rewrighter

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 10:54 PM

My suggestion is to ditch the first two paragraphs. They're backstory. Your hook must blend with the conflict AND the character. Something like this:

 

After living life for a millennia, Gertie-the-ugly-witch thought she'd been there, done it all. Until a former customer storms into her nice, quiet hovel and reminds her that a powerful evil still lurks in the world, and it's her job to stop it.

 

Because it's Gertie's sister. (Dang it.) 

 

 

Then you can launch into the specifics of the conflict, and what both Gertie and Freya have to lose if they don't get what they want.

BTW, this sounds like a potentially fun read - 

Good luck! 



#7 dogsbody

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:27 AM

I have an odd-ish question: is this really a YA novel?

 

I ask because Gertie seems to be the main character -- she starts the query, the main conflict is hers -- but she's one thousand and eleven years old. Which is, you know, slightly out of the range for Young Adult protagonists. You do have a teenager in there, but this doesn't seem to be her story the way it is Gertie's, or at least not the way you've phrased it here.

 

Adding to my confusion is your comp titles. Real quick: Marilyn Kaye's Penelope was a media tie-in -- that means it was not pitched or sold or entered the market on its own merits, but was written on spec in expectation that the movie would garner enough acclaim to make money in different versions. The take-away here is: the book's audience was the movie's audience, first and foremost, so there's little hope of wooing that readership unless your book is also accompanied by a movie. It also might come across as a sneaky attempt to use a movie as a comp title, being a tie-in. (aka, the movie's screenplay with a bit of filler to round it out)

 

Anyway, Penelope's old enough to legally drink in the states, which ages her out of being a YA protag. So it's not a YA title. Neither is Uprooted, which was marketed and won awards as an "adult" novel. Calling on Dragons is one of those half-and-half MG/YA books, recommended by Scholastic for grades 6-8, which is younger than the present-day audience for YA. 

 

I promise I am not nitpicking -- all of this ambiguity feels crucial to clear up, because how you write your query (aka the first step you take in marketing your book) can vary on whether it's for a YA or adult novel. So I'm hesitant to dip into the meat of the query before I know exactly what kind of story you're trying to pitch.  

 

Because if it's YA, the first thing I'd recommend is rewriting so that Freya is the clear main character, and to show how her story is the one central to the plot. But if it's adult (or MG?) I'd tell you to leave Freya out entirely, maybe, and write more in-depth about Gertie. But right now the focus is split, and in a way which -- I feel -- makes the story itself something of a mystery. 






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